Consumer Alert: JD Power study reveals declining quality in new vehicles

There are few things sweeter than the smell of a new car. But the newest quality survey by JD Power has uncovered a troubling trend that really stinks. The study indicates that auto manufacturers are trending in the wrong direction.

JD Power measured the quality of cars through surveys of 93,000 folks who bought or leased a new car. And what it found is that manufacturers are sacrificing quality on the altar of new technology. It analyzes problems per 100 vehicles. And like golf, the lower the number, the better the score.

JD Power’s study calls out widespread problems with advanced driver-assistance features like lane-departure warnings and automatic emergency braking, And it found there are 30 more problems per 100 vehicles than just two years ago. Volvo’s 2023 XC40 is an example of the problems outlined in the study. It’s one of 10 2023 models that Volvo had to recall earlier this year because of problems with the automatic emergency braking. In fact, Volvo and EV makers Tesla and Polestar came in dead last in the quality survey. Volvo had 257 problems per 100 vehicles, and Tesla and Polestar had 313.

New technology isn’t the only thing causing problems. The survey found automakers are having trouble with stuff we once thought was basic. Volkswagen’s problem-plagued ID.4 EV is an example. Thousands were recalled because the door could fly open while the vehicle was moving due to water leaking into the electronic door handles. The same model was also recalled because the electric battery would stall without warning.

Here are the automakers with the top rankings.

  1. Dodge, with 140 average problems per 100 vehicles
  2. Ram, 141
  3. Alfa Romeo, 143
  4. Buick, 162
  5. Chevrolet, 166
  6. GMC, 167
  7. Porsche, 167
  8. Cadillac, 170
  9. Kia, 170
  10. Lexus, 171

So yes, new technology is largely the reason we’re seeing more problems with new cars. But I tend to be a “glass half full” person. Perhaps the positive side of all these quality issues now is that when automakers work out the kinks, we’ll have cars that ultimately are safer and more driver-friendly. If you’re shopping for a new car, take the JD Power quality study into consideration.

Also, the non-profit, Consumer Reports, also analyzes and test-drives vehicles before issuing its rankings of the best car brands. It’s also an excellent reference before making your decision about a new car.